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Early Hearing Detection unit brought to Aberdeen

In partnership with the University of South Dakota and the Department of Health, a new tele-infant hearing assessment unit has been added at Sanford in Aberdeen
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:35 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In partnership with the University of South Dakota and the Department of Health, a new tele-infant hearing assessment unit has been added at Sanford in Aberdeen.

This unit will help detect hearing deficiencies in newborns locally in the Hub City, so families won’t have to travel to receive care.

”Families were having to travel quite some distance to be able to receive that diagnostic testing, which, as we know, that can be a very big barrier for families and can really limit their ability to access that care,” said Dr. Jessica Messersmith, a pediatric audiologist that works with the program.

Aberdeen was chosen for an EHDI facility due to the data USD collected around follow-up documentation.

”The area around Aberdeen was one of those areas in the state that had the highest loss to follow-up and loss to documentation,” said Dr. Messersmith.

Dr. Messersmith is able to remotely control the testing technology from Vermillion and give Aberdeen families results right away.

”It is really nice because parents can just come right here. When they have little newborns, it’s hard to even get out of the house at times, so traveling to Fargo or Sioux Falls or wherever they may need to go for an audiologist appointment to this degree, it really helps being right here,” said Elizabeth Adkins, an LPN at Sanford in Aberdeen.

Dr. Messersmith says this testing is important, as she predicts 50 to 55 children are born with hearing loss in South Dakota each year.

”If that hearing loss can be identified at or younger than three months of age and this child receives the intervention that they need to develop communication, these children can enter kindergarten right alongside their normal-hearing peers with no additional supports necessary,” said Dr. Messersmith.

Aberdeen’s EHDI unit opened in October and is one of three remote sites in South Dakota. The other sites are located in Hot Springs and Winner.

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